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What is a brake caliper?

What is a brake caliper?

The braking system is a complex device made up of numerous components whose purpose is to ensure the safety of road users by ensuring that their motorized vehicle can brake and stop in time if necessary. Among the various components of the braking system, road users should be familiar with the brake calipers, whose function is to make the brake pads rub against the brake disk in order to stop the vehicle.

In the braking system, the car's brake caliper plays an important role. Therefore, it must be in good condition to ensure the safety of the driver while driving. How this mechanical part works, let's take a closer look.

Brakes are undoubtedly the most important component of a modern car; we wouldn't be able to drive if we couldn't stop. Brakes existed long before the invention of the automobile. Trains, bicycles, and even horse-drawn carriages could be equipped with brakes.

Early cars had drum brakes. The drum brake consists of a crescent-shaped shoe that exerts outward pressure on the inside of a metal drum. Heavy trucks and some other vehicles are still equipped with drum brakes, but since the 1970s almost all cars, SUVs and vans have been equipped with disc brakes. At least in the front, because some vehicles, including newer electric cars, have drum brakes in the rear.

Today, side-by-side vehicles, motorcycles, ATVs and bicycles are also equipped with disc brakes.

What is a car brake caliper?

The brake caliper is a mechanical part of the braking system designed to press the brake pads against the disc. It consists of the following components

  • One or more hydraulic pistons that apply pressure to the disk
  • A caliper body
  • A space for the brake pad

What is a car brake caliper?

Good to know: the car brake caliper is an important part of the braking system mechanism, as its correct functioning guarantees perfect braking intensity. It therefore has an impact on safety.

The role of a car brake caliper

When the brake system is activated by the brake pedal, the pistons move under the pressure of the brake fluid. This movement brings them into contact with the brake disk. This movement allows the vehicle to slow down or stop, depending on the intensity of the pressure.

The pistons return to their original position when the driver releases the brake pedal. These enormous constraints and the need to maintain short stopping distances over time have led brake manufacturers to use highly resistant materials for these calipers, depending on their use: cast iron, aluminum alloy...

The role of a car brake caliper

Good to know: the correct functioning of the hydraulic braking system depends on the quality of the brake fluid, which must be changed every two years or every 50,000 km.

What are the different types of brake calipers?

There are several different types of car brake calipers:

Floating caliper

The two main parts of a floating caliper are the caliper bracket and the caliper itself. The caliper holder is bolted to the vehicle's wheel hub or hub carrier. This part should not move unless it is removed.

The caliper is attached to the carrier in such a way that it can only move in one direction. This movement allows the pads to grip the disc. It consists of one or two pistons. The piston, which resembles an engine piston, moves under the pressure of the brake fluid. The caliper piston pushes the pad against the disc on one side. Since the caliper can slide, this movement also pushes the outer pad against the disc. Each caliper consists of a clevis, which is attached to the axle stub, and a clamp, which is guided by dovetail keys.

Friction between the spinning disc and the pads generates heat and forces the disc and its wheel to slow down in order to brake the vehicle. The bolt(s) that secure the caliper to the caliper carrier are also important. These bolts allow the caliper to slide on the caliper carrier. This back-and-forth movement occurs during braking and when you release the brake pedal.

What are the different types of brake calipers?

Fixed caliper

The pistons, positioned on either side of the disk, apply pressure to the disk. This system distributes the braking force more evenly across the entire disc. Fixed calipers are often found on high performance vehicles. They offer performance advantages, but function in much the same way as floating calipers. Unlike the floating caliper, which has a single piston, the fixed caliper has two pistons, one on each side of the caliper. The caliper is fixed in place and does not move (hence the name). The pistons, which move on either side of the disk, are the only moving parts in the system.

Ring caliper

The body is made up of two pistons, one of which pushes the pad in and the other pushes it out of the disk.

Sliding caliper

It consists of a clamp to which the pad is attached. The pressure exerted by the pistons is absorbed by the sliding system.

Good to know: Floating calipers are the most common type because they are simpler to design than other types of automotive calipers. This means lower manufacturing costs.

Now you know how a brake caliper works and what it's used for. As you can see, it plays an important role in your safety as part of your braking system. If you have a problem with your brake caliper, replace it on MOSTPLUS as soon as possible.

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